The OMTech Polar is a “clone” of the Glowforge line of laser cutting and engraving machines, for about 1/2 the cost. The Polar is a 50 watt “CO2” (carbon dioxide) laser cutter and engraver is a versatile machine that can cut and etch a wide variety of materials using a focused beam of laser light. The ’50W’ refers to the power output of the laser; the higher the wattage, the thicker the material the laser can cut. Here’s how it works:

  1. First, you create your design on a computer. This can be anything from text to complex patterns or images. 
  2. Once you have your design ready, you load your material into the machine. This could be wood, acrylic, glass, leather, or a number of other materials.
  3. Now, you’re ready to start the cutting or engraving process. The machine uses a gas-filled tube to produce a beam of light (the laser). This laser is guided by mirrors to the precise locations defined by your design.
  4. If you’re cutting, the laser beam will move around, burning away the material along the path of your design to create a cut-out shape. If you’re engraving, the laser will etch your design onto the surface of the material, either by adjusting the power to create different shades for a detailed image, or simply by creating lines for text or patterns.
  5. Once the machine is done, you can remove your material and will find it precisely cut or beautifully engraved with your design.

A 50W CO2 laser cutter and engraver is a fantastic tool for businesses, hobbyists, and educational settings, allowing for the creation of custom signage, intricate artwork, architectural models, personalized gifts, and much more.

 

Upgrades

 

Software

The software that drives and controls the laser machine is called LightBurn. LightBurn can also be used to create artwork as well, but it’s pretty limited. LightBurn imports artwork in a variety of common vector graphic and image formats including AI, PDF, SVG, DXF, PLT, PNG, JPG, GIF, BMP. 

Graphic Design Software You can either use the existing libraries here at VarmintLabs, or you can make your own.

  • For engraving, clean and clear photographs can be used and photo files can use used (PNG, JPG, GIF, BMP, etc)
  • For cutting, you can use anything that can output vector graphic files (AI, SVG, DXF, etc)

At VarmintLabs, we have everything from high-end computer aided drafting software like Autodesk’s Fusion 360, Adobe Illustrator, and the free Inkscape,

 

Materials

 

Material Engraving Cutting
Wood Yes Yes
Acrylic Yes Yes
Leather Yes Yes
Plastic Yes Yes

Plastic

Yes Yes
Cardboard Yes Yes
Pressboard Yes Yes
Fabric Yes Yes
MDF Yes Yes
Rubber Yes Yes
PVC NO – Toxic Fumes /Fire NO – Toxic Fumes /Fire
Bamboo Yes Yes
Craft Paper Yes Yes
Corrugated Cardboard Yes Yes
Felt Yes Yes
Delrin Yes Yes
Melamine Yes Yes
Mylar Yes Yes
Cork Yes Yes
Glass Yes NO
Fiberglass Yes NO
Ceramic Yes NO
Brick Yes NO
Stone Yes NO
Jade Yes NO
Marble Yes NO
Cement Yes NO
Glass Yes NO
Shale Yes NO
Corian Yes NO
Coated Metal Yes NO
Electroplated Metal Yes NO
Painted Metal Yes NO
Anodized Metal Yes NO
     

 

Ideas and Inspiration